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Answered Prayers Series: Hudson Taylor 


J Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM, now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in eighteen provinces.

His repertoire of achievements and skills are vastly phenomenal and deserve their own article, and has been written in many books but the most impressive, we believe, is his belief and stance in prayer. From humble beginnings and prayer, did his journey start. 

“I myself, for instance, am not especially gifted, and am shy by nature, but my gracious and merciful God and Father inclined Himself to me, and when I was weak in faith He strengthened me while I was still young. He taught me in my helplessness to rest on Him, and to pray even about little things in which another might have felt able to help himself.” J.H. Taylor 

One example of the many answered prayers he encountered in his lifetime can be found in one of his biographies speaking of their first initial and uncertain journey to China. “They had just come through the Dampier Strait but were not yet out of sight of the Islands. Usually a breeze would spring up after sunset and last until about dawn. The utmost use was made of it, but during the day they lay still with flapping sails. This happened notably on one occasion. When we were in dangerous proximity to the North of New Guinea. Saturday night had brought us to a point some 30 miles off the land. And during the Sunday morning service, which was held on deck, I could not fail to see that the captain looked troubled. He frequently went over to the side of the ship. When the service was ended, I learnt from him the cause. A forenaught current was carrying us towards some sunken reefs and we were already so near that it seemed improbable that we should get through the afternoon in safety. After dinner the longboat was put out and all hands endeavored without success to turn the ships head from the shore. After standing together on the deck for some time in silence, the captain said to me, ‘Well, we’ve done everything that can be done. We can only await the result.’ 

A thought occurred to me, said Taylor, and I replied, ‘No, there is one thing we have not done yet.’ ‘What’s that?’ He queried. ‘Four of us on board are Christians. Let us each retire to his own cabin and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze. He can as easily send it now as at sunset!’ The captain complied, because he was one of the Christians, with this proposal. I went and spoke to the other two men and after prayer with the carpenter, we all four retired to wait upon God. I had a good, but very brief season in prayer, and then felt so satisfied that our request was granted, that I could not continue asking, and very soon went up again on deck. 

“The power of prayer has never been tried to its full capacity in any church. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine grace and power wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let the whole Church answer God’s standing challenged; “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knows not.” J.H. Taylor 

The first officer, a godless man, was in charge. I went over and asked him to let down the clues, or corners of the main sail, which had been drawn up in order to lesson the useless flapping of the sail against the rigging. ‘What would be the good of that?’ He answered roughly. I told him we had been asking a wind from God, that it was coming immediately and we were so near the reef by this time that there was not a minute to lose. With an oath, and a look of contempt, he said he would rather see a wind than hear of it. But while he was speaking, I watched his eye, following it up to the royal, and there, sure enough, the corner of the topmost sail was beginning to tremble in the breeze. ‘Don’t you see the wind is coming? Look at the royal!’ I exclaimed. ‘No, it’s only a cat’s-paw.’ He rejoined. ‘A mere puff of wind.’ ‘Cat’s-paw, or not,’ I cried, ‘Pray, let down the main sail and give us the benefit.’ 

“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.” J.H. Taylor 

This, he was not slow to do. In other minute the heavy tread of the men on deck brought up the captain from his cabin to see what was the matter. The breeze had indeed come. In a few minutes, we were plowing our way at 6 or 7 knots an hour through the water. And though the wind was sometimes unsteady, we did not altogether lose it until after passing the Palau Islands. Thus, God encouraged me ere landing on China’s shores to bring every variety of need to Him in prayer and expect that He would honor the name of the Lord Jesus and give the help each emergency required.” 

Through trials and experiences, Taylor grew to be a giant of prayer and any person who has the honor of reading his biography will soon learn the might of the God we serve and the privilege we have in being his servants. May we carry the burden of prayer never as a last effort accessory but a first moment privilegeas Taylor learned in his lifetime at such a young age. 

“Perhaps if there were more of that intense distress for souls that leads to tears, we should more frequently see the results we desire. Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our want of success.” J.H. Taylor 



John Bunyan on Prayer
Prayers of Note: President George Washington


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